Thursday, September 23, 2004

Florida Court Nixes Law Keeping Woman Alive

Fla. Court Nixes Law Keeping Woman Alive
Sep 23, 11:33 AM (ET)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday struck
down a law that was rushed through the Legislature last fall to keep a
severely brain-damaged woman hooked up to a feeding tube against her
husband's wishes.

The unanimous court said the law that kept Terri Schiavo alive violated
the separation of powers between the judicial branch and the legislative
and executive branches.

Lower courts had ruled that Michael Schiavo could have the tube removed,
but the Legislature passed the law to overrule the courts. Gov. Jeb Bush
then used the law to order the tube reinserted. The court's decision
came just a weeks after oral arguments.

Terri Schiavo, who lives in a Clearwater nursing home, can breathe on
her own but relies on a feeding and hydration tube to live. Courts have
concluded she is in a "persistent vegetative state," but maneuvering
over her fate has produced a closely watched right-to-die fight.

The 40-year-old woman left no written instructions before suffering
brain damage when her heart stopped beating 14 years ago. But in Florida
a person's wishes must be honored even if they are expressed orally.

Schiavo's parents disagree with their son-in-law about her wishes,
insisting their daughter wanted to live and could be helped with
therapy. Courts have generally sided with Michael Schiavo, but parents
Bob and Mary Schindler have won stays that have kept their daughter
alive.